The Women’s World Cup Round of 16 matchup between the United States women’s soccer team and Sweden came down to a matter of centimeters but it was the latter squad who benefited the most.
Lina Hurtig was the 14th player to come to the mark to take her shot. She took a deep breath and fired the ball at U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The veteran keeper push the ball up and it hit the top of the post. However, when the ball came back down, it crossed the goal line.
It took a minute for the referees to determine whether the ball was good. And it was.
Sweden was jubilant after the 5-4 win in penalties – the U.S. defeated.
Lindsey Horan said she was “proud” of her team but it was unfortunate to come to a shootout at the end of the match.
“A lot went into this performance and it was kidna changing gears and playing like us and playing our style – being confident and patient and all of those things,” she said. We went out and did it. And I think we played beautiful football today.
“Penalties, to be frank, they suck. They’re cruel. I’ve gone through too many in my career. I’m proud of every player who stepped up and took a penalty today. Score or miss, it’s courageous to go take a penalty.
The loss marked the earliest the U.S. team has ever been eliminated from the Women’s World Cup but they had ample opportunity to score at least one goal and even put the Swedes away in penalties.
Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic stood on her head the entire night and kept the Americans out of the back of the net despite multiple chances from Trinity Rodman, Lindsey Horan, Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan. Megan Rapinoe had one opportunity in front but misjudged the bounce of the ball.
After more than 120 minutes of play, the score was tied 0-0.
The penalty shootout appeared to be pretty even. Horan, Andi Sullivan and Kristie Mewis scored for the U.S. Fridolina Rolfo and Elin Rubensson kept things tight. But after Mewis scored to go up 3-2, Sweden’s Nathalie Bjorn, missed high.
Rapinoe – one of the most decorated U.S. soccer players of all time – had the chance to play the hero once again and put the U.S. at a seemingly insurmountable advantage. She missed.
Smiling in disbelief, Rapinoe walked back to the line to watch Rebecka Blomqvist try to tie the shootout. However, Naeher came through and delivered a dramatic save. The U.S. got another chance. Smith, who represents the future of the squad, could have made it 4-2 as well but she missed her chance.
Hanna Bennison put the shootout into sudden death.
After Naeher and Magdalena Eriksson put shots into the net, Kelley O’Hara had a chance to put the U.S. back up. O’Hara’s shot was off of the post.
Hurtig came up and the ball somehow crossed the line for the win.
Sweden will face Japan in the next round.
The U.S. women’s soccer team will be leaving the Women’s World Cup the earliest they ever have. The Americans were coming in as the two-time defending champions. It’s not back to the drawing board.